Monday, February 18, 2013

Los Angeles Gangland, Part 4: 1950's

1950.  The battle for Los Angeles is in full swing.  Now the Los Angeles Family has one goal: kill Mickey Cohen. They decide to bomb him at home one more time. This time they pack thirty sticks of dynamite into one large pipe, creating a kind of homemade Bangalore Torpedo (a special bomb that was used in battle to breach barbed wire, mine fields and bunkers).  They concoct a two-fuse system to avoid the fuse failure they encountered last time they attempted to bomb Mickey.

A made guy drives Sam Bruno to Mickey’s neighborhood to deliver the bomb.  Sam quietly removes the grating that covers the crawl space beneath the house.  He crawls on his belly until he believes he’s under Mickey’s bedroom.  He places the bomb and unspools both fuses as he crawls back to exit.  He pulls out his zippo lighter and lights both fuses before making his exit at 4:00am.  At 4:15am, February 6, 1950 the bomb goes off.  

The blast left a hole in Mickey’s wall six feet high, and a hole in Mickey’s floor ten feet deep.  It shattered windows in neighboring homes.  Mickey's bed was briefly airborne with Mickey along for the ride.  When it was over, Mickey was shaken but unharmed.  One more time luck was on Mickey’s side.  Sam had placed the bomb under a concrete box built to hold a safe. It deflected the blast down and then outward so the bulk of the energy was expended away from Mickey’s bedroom.  What really bothered him was that the blast had destroyed many of his prized suits.

Sam Bruno was angry that he had failed to kill Mickey.  He decided to use a shotgun to blast Mickey once and for all.  He had Carmen drive him to a street just before Mickey’s.  He waited in some bushes on the side of the road with a shotgun loaded with double aught buckshot.  Mickey was on his way home alone after a long night.  He was whistling a tune as he turned to go up his street when Sam let go with both barrels.  The buckshot smashed through the door of the car, shattered the car windows, but drew no blood.  Mickey accelerated down the block to his house.  Once again he was shaken, but miraculously unharmed.  

Mickey’s luck cannot be explained.  It was almost mythical.  A lot of people over the years have attributed the LA family’s failure to kill Mickey Cohen to incompetence.  

It really is hard to kill someone who knows they are going to be killed.  Lets look back at last week’s Valentine’s Day Massacre post.  There was Al Capone, the head of the Chicago Outfit during Prohibition, who had an ongoing war with Bugs Moran.  He killed all of Bugs’ associates and launched one final assault against Bugs on February 14th, 1929.  Capone killed seven men, but Bugs escaped again.  Capone and his many men were never able to kill Bugs.

Another lucky criminal was Jack "Legs" Diamond, a New York Bootlegger.  He was moving booze in Manhattan during Prohibition.  Dutch Shultz, then a very powerful Harlem-based gangster, decided he wanted Legs dead.  He tried to kill him for many years.  He failed to do so at least five different times.  

Back to Mickey.  The last big strike the LA Family made against Mickey was aimed instead at his lawyer, Sam Rummel.  Sam was the lawyer of choice for many LA Gangsters.  He was juiced in at City Hall.  He was the guy who could put the fix in with the right person.  He also used to let LAPD know when Mickey was going out so he had protection. The LA Family decided to take Sam out.  Jimmy Frattiano was put in charge of the hit.  He was told to use Angelo Polizzi and Carlo Licata as the shooters.  Angelo would be the shooter and Carlo would be back up shooter and get away driver.  Jimmy would be driving the crash car followed by Nick Licata in a second crash car.  Angelo was dropped off nearby Sam’s home at 2600 Laurel Canyon Blvd.  He hid behind a tree with a sawed off shotgun where he had a perfect view of Sam’s front steps.  The home was a Villa with a steep set of stairs from the garage to the house above.  It was 1:30am on December 11, 1950.  Sam parked his car and took two steps up towards his front door.  Angelo, now using the tree as a rest, fired both barrels, striking Sam in the neck and back.  He was flung forward, where he lay on the steps dying as Carlo Licata skidded to a halt on the curb.  Angelo jumped in the passenger seat and they made their exit.

This would be the final shot in the war on Mickey Cohen.  The LA Family failed to kill him, but managed to put a dent in his connections.  He would soon after be sent away to prison by the IRS in 1951 and then again in 1961 when he was sent to Alcatraz and he was beat in the head with a pipe.  The beating forced Mickey into a wheelchair for the rest of his life.  He would die in his sleep on July 29, 1976.  Jack Dragna would live another six years after Mickey ceased to be a factor in Los Angeles Organized Crime until  February 23, 1956, when he died of a heart attack.  Jack Dragna was never touched by Mickey Cohen, Bugsy Seigel or any other hood as many of these bad Hollywood writers like to write about.  

The Los Angeles Family of La Cosa Nostra was still a player in the national criminal underworld. They were invited and even attended the 1957 Apalachin mob convention, represented by the new boss Frank Desimone and his underboss, together with Cosa Nostra bosses from all over the country.

The Los Angeles Cosa Nostra continued on through the decades.  They would reach their peak in the late 60's and early 70's.  Pete Milano took control of the family in the 1984 after Dominic Brooklier aka Jimmy Regace died.  Pete would revamp the family and try to enlarge it with the help of the Fiato's also known as the Gangster Brothers.  Pete would try again in the late 90' s to make some moves.  He tried to get things going in Las Vegas only to be taken down in Operation Thin Crust and Operation Button Down.   That is a little preview of what I will write about in the future. Until then I will keep up the stories from Old Los Angeles.


  1. was caci in la before frattiano ratted or during that time or after ? can u blog about milano and caci more?

  2. Jimmy Caci was here and left. He came back. He had words with Frattiano. I will blog about them later.

  3. what do u mean they had words? they did not get along?